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Are Objectivists victims to the Psychology of the common-sensical?

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I have had many conversations with objectivist friends and physicists and in fact an objectivist physics major friend. 

 

I tend to find among the objectivists, in addition to their rejection of Platonism, mysticism, supernaturalism and the like, which is ALL correct, there is a kind of crusty curmudgeonly "if it ain't something I saw on a farm it's nonsense" attitude about the physics of the incredibly small or the unimaginably big... BOTH of which are utterly UNEXPERIENCED by humans in our lifetimes or by any of our evolutionary ancestors reaching back into the beginnings of life and time itself.

 

To me it is logical to connect everyday experience with... well, everyday experience.  Our ability to reason evolved to correctly gain knowledge from reality and it works.  But when it comes to imagining reality in comparison to common experience, we tend to rely too much on what we are perceptually accustomed to.  Anything other than common experience must be analysed very carefully using sound inductive and deductive reasoning.  There is so much evasion (yeas I used the word) regarding modern science in the objectivist community that I begin to wonder why?  Why hold on to unreason, masquerading as reason, under the false pretenses of common sense being the justification? ("I'm the dude playing the dude disguised as another dude")

 

I think we all climbed out of the falsehoods, the false dichotomies, the mystic traps of religion, Platonism, and Kant, by use of logic and our rationality which is closely tied to ... well, common sense.  After seeing and feeling such amazing emancipatory powers of this tool, we are tempted to rely on our "gut" for far too many things.  In the battle of "they say" and "I think" that common sense was invaluable... there were falsehoods to surmount and we as objectivists prevailed. 

 

However, In the struggle to understand the universe, dismissing what scientists say often means dismissing the only evidence (piles and piles of scientific experimental evidence and knowledge) we have, which in fact comes from reality itself.  We are then left in the stone-age, or perhaps with the mind of an eight year old, babbling about the "reality" of things without a shred of and in fact IN SPITE of experimental evidence. 

 

Consigned to this oblivion of ignorance we see objectivists providing instead of useful informed explanations, mere criticisms, unreasoned rejections out of hand, and quite bluntly inane futilities which make up a large part of Objectivist "thought" on the subject of Physics in this forum.

 

Does anyone else see this tendency as I do, or have any theories as to this phenomenon's origins?

 

 

cheers

DO

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It would help if you had a couple examples. I'm not all that into science, so I haven't noticed what you're talking about, having not followed the OO.com threads that I guess you're referring to.

 

Of course, all new data must be cross-examined against what we already know, and the further we have to travel in our minds to cross-examine, the more difficult. But not that difficult -- that's why we use concepts, after all. So again, examples?

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I can't say I would express things as you have.  I haven't seen any such tendency from professional Objectivist philosophers who give lectures on physics.  Usually they stick pretty hard to the philosophy of science and only reject things on the basis of metaphysical truths being violated.  As far as a forum goes, it isn't a professional sphere, it is conversational for people to give their ideas, speculations, or whatever.  It isn't expected that what someone says in this fourm will be an original contribution to physics.  People just like to put out ideas of how they understand things and have it criticized by others to think and grow thereby or just because they are curious of what other people think.  If you think people are unfairly rejecting a physicists interpretation of his experiment, ask them why the object and then refute them. 

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I can't say I would express things as you have.  I haven't seen any such tendency from professional Objectivist philosophers who give lectures on physics.  Usually they stick pretty hard to the philosophy of science and only reject things on the basis of metaphysical truths being violated.  As far as a forum goes, it isn't a professional sphere, it is conversational for people to give their ideas, speculations, or whatever.  It isn't expected that what someone says in this fourm will be an original contribution to physics.  People just like to put out ideas of how they understand things and have it criticized by others to think and grow thereby or just because they are curious of what other people think.  If you think people are unfairly rejecting a physicists interpretation of his experiment, ask them why the object and then refute them. 

 

Perhaps there are professional objectivist philosophers who have enough of an understanding of physics to give lectures and who are diligent and serious about investigating science in an unbiased manner... it would be unfair for me to attribute to them something I have noted generally.  There are always exceptions. 

 

 

It would help if you had a couple examples. I'm not all that into science, so I haven't noticed what you're talking about, having not followed the OO.com threads that I guess you're referring to.

 

Of course, all new data must be cross-examined against what we already know, and the further we have to travel in our minds to cross-examine, the more difficult. But not that difficult -- that's why we use concepts, after all. So again, examples?

 

Since I am not playing the blame game I will not identify the sources or individuals but generally go over the types of "rejections" I have noted:

 

 

1. General relativity

2. nonlocality

3. anti-matter - total conversion of matter into energy

4. objective randomness (probability with no hidden variables)

5. quantum tunnelling and nuclear decay

6. dual nature (wave particle) of very small (low mass) particles, atoms etc.

7. QM in general

 

I have not observed the same hostility towards knowledge and science and indeed their application in engineering and the multitude of "magical" gadgets we enjoy today from any other civilized group.  Lawyers, dentists, authors, even Catholics seem more open on average to the knowledge of Physics than layperson objectivists.  It is as though there is an overarching psychological phenomenon at play. 

 

I think it is tied to extending the "common sense" approach of critical thinking (which in association with logic as such is incredibly useful) to a kind of "judge things using common perception" policy, i.e. a day-to-day perceptual standard is used to judge scientific evidence.

 

 

By way of illustration think of the famous Rutherford experiment:

 

Rutherford discovered the general structure of atoms from his Gold foil experiment.  He bombarded gold foil and found from the results that solid metal is mostly "empty" space, being an arrangement of nuclei which are capable of scattering particles which bombard the target, separated by expanses of space many times greater than the size of those nuclei through which particles simply pass though.  Most of the mass of the gold was concentrated at these tiny places (nuclei) and these were arranged, "disconnected" and apart from each other.

 

This clearly flies in the face of common every day experience in a number of ways but primarily strikes at the heard of the every-day concept of "solidity" itself. 

 

Imagine a fictional person at the time appealing to common "sense" (perceptions) alone:

 

"Solid things are by definition continuously solid, they are not made of holes, they certainly are not MOSTLY empty space, clearly we can see this because objects do not pass through each other -> Logic dictates that were solid objects mostly empty space they would easily pass through each other routinely. I have never seen a steel ball pass though a table.  As for this matrix of spaced apart nuclei, this is impossible.  Were the nuclei themselves solid, still, solid things do not hold each other "up" without touching each other.  Even if we tried to arrange newly understood magnets in an arrangement of some permanence, there is no stable matrix position and orientation which allows construction of a stable "thing".  This man would have me believe that this quite solid table (speaker slams fist on the table) is actually 99% empty space?  This man implies, nay is explicitly stating, that Solid things are not and indeed never have been, Solid.  Such an idea is a contradiction in terms.  It is nonsensical.  Next he would have us believe that these Nuclei of his also are mostly space, populated by even smaller entities (or perhaps even point singularities) whizzing about tied together by mysterious "forces", and thereby have us dispense from the universe the concept of solidity ENTIRELY for none of the individual things of which things are made would take up any space at all! I will not believe that solidity is an illusion somehow arising from things which do not possess it.   THIS (Slams fist again) my friends I believe in...  Not the nonsense this so-called scientist has asked us to swallow."

 

There are innumerable problems in the thinking here.  I will not try to identify them all.  I think anyone can grasp my point.  We have a conception of solidity which is based on human perception at the level of interaction with matter (macroscopic) we are capable of.  THAT conception constitutes knowledge of the way interactions at our level actually "work" and as such is not incorrect.  Solid things are not "porous" in that they do not admit fluid or dust to pass through them, nor are they capable of being passed through each other.  Solid things are continuously divisible into other solid things and solid things actually "take up space".  It is not that objects "appear" solid, at our level of experience they ARE continuously solid and do not possess any "empty spaceiness" properties at our level of interaction with fluids or other solids. 

 

The FACT that this common sense conception of "solidity" does not hold on the microscopic (atomic) scale, nor indeed is it an attribute of any fundamental entity which makes up solid things, does not invalidate the whole of our knowledge nor even that knowledge of solid objects per se.  The experiment augments our knowledge.  Far from the knowledge that everything solid is made of mostly point like particles interacting over expanses of space banishing the concept of "solidity" from the universe, it informs our knowledge of the reality of solidity.  It tells us WHY solid things behave the way solid things do (we actually need to add more knowledge re negative electrical charge between the nuclei to really understand, but knowledge of nuclei and empty space forms part of the total knowledge needed.).  The sum of our knowledge of reality also is entirely consistent with steel balls NOT falling though tables, etc.. 

 

Acceptance and subsequent integration of knowledge gained by science here requires that we do NOT abandon reason, deductive and inductive logic, careful experimentation, but DOES require that we abandon day to day human "PERCEPTION" level assumptions about the universe, some which SEEM like "common sense".  This is a fine distinction with which perhaps layperson objectivists are somewhat challenged.

 

 

BTW The fictional person who spoke those words against the implications of the Rutherford experiment I equate with many objectivists in the way they treat modern science.  I do not doubt that had Rand lived before Rutherford, this very type of "speech" would have been quite popular among objectivists (perhaps both laypersons and "professionals").

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I will take a stab at why Objectivists may reject certain parts of these physics ideas.  The objections are philosophical they don't question the results of experiments and they don't rely on common sense either.

 

1. General relativity ( reification of concepts)

2. nonlocality (Depends on how you are defining it, if you think there can be action by no causal agent that is wrong on philosophical grounds.  If you think there is some yet undetectable causal agent that's fine.)

3. anti-matter - total conversion of matter into energy (no objection)

4. objective randomness (probability with no hidden variables) (If you are saying it has no identity then it violates the law of identity.  A thing is what it is, if you can find a way for "randomness" to be an existent and still be an exact something with exact properties then you can keep it.  Things can't exist in an indeterminate state.  This is a crude example but you can't look at a cow and then blink and then it is a hippopotamus and then blink and it is a flea.  The cow doesn't exist in a random state with no identity.  That applies on the level of the very small or the very large.)

 

5. quantum tunnelling and nuclear decay (no objection)

 

6. dual nature (wave particle) of very small (low mass) particles, atoms etc. (no objection as long as it is something that appears this way and not fundamentally two contradictory things at the same time.  for instance nothing is black and non-black at the same time)

 

7. QM in general (no objection without giving certain claims)

 

 

I would say the example of the fictional person is just positivism.  The objectivist philosophers I have listened to don't use common sense at all to reject physics, but like i said, philosophical objections to interpretations of experiments.

Edited by bioengine

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I will take a stab at why Objectivists may reject certain parts of these physics ideas.  The objections are philosophical they don't question the results of experiments and they don't rely on common sense either.

 

1. General relativity ( reification of concepts)

2. nonlocality (Depends on how you are defining it, if you think there can be action by no causal agent that is wrong on philosophical grounds.  If you think there is some yet undetectable causal agent that's fine.)

3. anti-matter - total conversion of matter into energy (no objection)

4. objective randomness (probability with no hidden variables) (If you are saying it has no identity then it violates the law of identity.  A thing is what it is, if you can find a way for "randomness" to be an existent and still be an exact something with exact properties then you can keep it.  Things can't exist in an indeterminate state.  This is a crude example but you can't look at a cow and then blink and then it is a hippopotamus and then blink and it is a flea.  The cow doesn't exist in a random state with no identity.  That applies on the level of the very small or the very large.)

 

5. quantum tunnelling and nuclear decay (no objection)

 

6. dual nature (wave particle) of very small (low mass) particles, atoms etc. (no objection as long as it is something that appears this way and not fundamentally two contradictory things at the same time.  for instance nothing is black and non-black at the same time)

 

7. QM in general (no objection without giving certain claims)

 

 

I would say the example of the fictional person is just positivism.  The objectivist philosophers I have listened to don't use common sense at all to reject physics, but like i said, philosophical objections to interpretations of experiments.

 

My outlook on Objectivist attitudes toward modern science/physics is somewhat buoyed by your answer.  It is reassuring 3 and 5 seem acceptable.  But I do recall some famous objectivists denying 5.

 

You state "things can't exist in an indeterminate state".  What do you mean by "indeterminate state"? You give an example of an entity which changes from a cow to a hippopotamus to a flea.  All of which seem to be determined states in a temporal sequence.  I know cows don't do this but I don't think there is a philosophical reason why Neutrinos can't do this... and I think experiments have been performed to show that they do.  The neutrino fluctuates from one kind of neutrino to another... Turning to this now, we know that all entities are themselves and behave according to their natures.  So either the entity (itself at time t) transforms into a different entity (which is itself at time t+1), or we take to be the "real" entity, the thing which has "attributes" describing/typifying the state of the entity at time t and which evolve into the "attributes" describing/typifying the state of the entity at time t+1,  In any case the law of identity is not violated. 

 

Perhaps something else is meant by "indeterminate state"?  Whatever state that is, I would like to understand how an indeterminate state necessarily is inconsistent with the law of identity.  It would be a state which is indeterminate (perhaps bounded in possibilities) as against a state which was determined (restricted strictly to a single possibility i.e. a certainty).  I can state this state A is indeterminate and is the state A as against state B...

 

Are we conflating the identity of a thing and the identification of the limits of its nature? 

 

I would submit that any hypothetical entity which is itself obeys the law of identity as long as it is not .. not itself, irrespective of its hypothetical nature.  The law of identity is VERY strict but VERY broad. Moreover, I do not think any hypothetical entity could be defined which violates the law of identity without it being ab initio conceptually incomprehensible/incoherent. In fact the class of such hypotheticals would belong to a very specific set: the set of things which are not themselves... which is the null set... 

 

Still curious...

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Does anyone else see this tendency as I do, or have any theories as to this phenomenon's origins?

It might have something to do with the fact that, if we believe popularly-publicized scientists: our cars are destroying the planet, we have no minds (no free will), poverty causes crime, et cetera.  I think that many contemporary scientists have no right to the title, frankly.

 

Since I am not playing the blame game I will not identify the sources or individuals but generally go over the types of "rejections" I have noted:

 

1. General relativity

2. nonlocality

3. anti-matter - total conversion of matter into energy

4. objective randomness (probability with no hidden variables)

5. quantum tunnelling and nuclear decay

6. dual nature (wave particle) of very small (low mass) particles, atoms etc.

7. QM in general

1.  No complaints, here.

2.  Also no complaints, even though it directly contradicts 1.  My thoughts on 1+2 are simply that Einstein knew we needed to reevaluate our commonsense conceptions of space and time; perhaps it's time to do so again.  (Are nonlocal phenomena really nonlocal?  Check your premises, specifically locality)

3.  Makes perfect sense, provided you accept 1.  (motion without a thing to move is impossible; energy without matter is a contradiction. . . Unless the energy is imparted into space and time, themselves, as existents)  Actually, 3 may be impossible without 1.

4.  This I disagree with adamantly.

5.  Good.

6.  Good, but needs reinterpretation.  One thing can't actually be two things simultaneously; if waves and particles are interchangeable then both are actually wave/particles.  That's basically semantics, though.

7.  De Broglie-Bohm theorem.  See 4.

 

My issue with real, total randomness is this.

If something is random then, by definition, it can never be understood (except as simply random), predicted or controlled.  What is random is beyond the grasp of reason and human intelligence.

If something is random then anything made from it is also random; if subatomic particles can pop into and out of existence whenever they please then so can everything made of subatomic particles.

If so then anything and everything in the universe may pop into and out of existence, teleport and pass through solid objects spontaneously, at any given moment.  This is obviously false.

The standard response, as I understand it, is that these things MIGHT actually happen but they're highly improbable.  I find this answer unacceptable.  If so, then:

 

Will gravity work tomorrow?  Probably.

Does China still exist?  Probably.

Are presidential elections governed by a quark within my big toe?  Probably not, but perhaps.

 

It basically invalidates all logic and any claim anyone could ever hold to certainty; anything goes.  That's why I prefer a hidden-variable interpretation, such as De Broglie-Bohm.

Because if nobody can ever be certain of anything then all knowledge is undermined.  And, after all, how could you ever be certain that there isn't some hidden variable?

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My outlook on Objectivist attitudes toward modern science/physics is somewhat buoyed by your answer.  It is reassuring 3 and 5 seem acceptable.  But I do recall some famous objectivists denying 5.

 

You state "things can't exist in an indeterminate state".  What do you mean by "indeterminate state"? You give an example of an entity which changes from a cow to a hippopotamus to a flea.  All of which seem to be determined states in a temporal sequence.  I know cows don't do this but I don't think there is a philosophical reason why Neutrinos can't do this... and I think experiments have been performed to show that they do.  The neutrino fluctuates from one kind of neutrino to another... Turning to this now, we know that all entities are themselves and behave according to their natures.  So either the entity (itself at time t) transforms into a different entity (which is itself at time t+1), or we take to be the "real" entity, the thing which has "attributes" describing/typifying the state of the entity at time t and which evolve into the "attributes" describing/typifying the state of the entity at time t+1,  In any case the law of identity is not violated. 

 

Yes, if it is a temporal sequence that is fine.  What I mean is that if that happened to you, you would assume that someone was running in real fast and switching out the cow for the hippo and so forth.  You would look for a cause.  The cow is not truly a "Random" animal but something physically happened.  Or maybe someone gave the cow some kind of biologic agent which morphed it to a different species.  It wasn't just that the cow was indeterminate and could be anything or nothing.  The nuetrino must be fluctuating for some reason is what i am saying, it isn't existing randomly doing whatever.  So it would appear random based on lack of information of what's actually happening.

 

 

 

Perhaps something else is meant by "indeterminate state"?  Whatever state that is, I would like to understand how an indeterminate state necessarily is inconsistent with the law of identity.  It would be a state which is indeterminate (perhaps bounded in possibilities) as against a state which was determined (restricted strictly to a single possibility i.e. a certainty).  I can state this state A is indeterminate and is the state A as against state B...

 

Because the law of identity implies a specific identity.  To exist is to be something with an identity that behaves according to that identity.  This is the reason there is no such thing as "nothing".  If a true vacuum existed it would be an existent lacking identity.  To say that something exists in a certain number of possible states is fine.  All you are saying is that you have observed several states and you don't know how to predict what state it will be in at a given time.  How is it you could claim that there is no reason whatsoever it switches from one state to another, it switches causelessly?  There is an effect with no cause?  I think the concept random has always meant we are lacking information of what's truly happening, I don't know why that would change for the case of neutrinos, maybe you could explain further.

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The nuetrino must be fluctuating for some reason is what i am saying, it isn't existing randomly doing whatever.  So it would appear random based on lack of information of what's actually happening.

How is it you could claim that there is no reason whatsoever it switches from one state to another, it switches causelessly?  There is an effect with no cause?  I think the concept random has always meant we are lacking information of what's truly happening, I don't know why that would change for the case of neutrinos, maybe you could explain further.

Hidden variables; De Broglie-Bohm.

(I have nothing to add to this; I'm simply hijacking it to bolster my own position with)

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bioengine:

 

You state explicitly and I agree, that no real thing can be in a state which is "indeterminate and could be anything or nothing".

 

No scientific theory or QM state actually embraces a physical entity which is "indeterminate" in that it could be "anything or nothing".  e.g. A = probability1*anything + probability2*nothing is not a description of a quantum mechanical state according to modern science.

 

At most an entity is described by a quantum state as an "indeterminate" mixture of some known states, the mixture (defined by probability and phase) is specific.   e.g. for spin  A = probability1*up + probability2*down (I have dispensed with phase for ease of interpretation).  Every hypothetical physical QM state A has probability1 or probability2 determined, and the sum of probabilities sums to 1 for every hypothetical QM state.  As such the state of spin for A is specific, it is defined, and the probabilities of all possible measurements is unity.  This characterization of states is not something scientists imagined, theorized or pushed for prior to observation, it is a consequence of experiments and much frustration.  Furthermore the position that the state only defines the probabilities of what will be measured also is not something scientists wanted.  This is a compromise which costs the scientist dearly.  The very nature of reality forces us to stop at merely describing the state on the basis of the probability of measuring outcomes.  Through further experiment we have not been able to crack nature to a degree such that we can know what these states "really are" in a way we can describe them coherently.  In fact it is an open question whether or not it is meaningful to impose upon the universe explanations for all possible phenomena which we can intuitively understand.  Our intuition is extremely limited by our nature, evolution, our experience etc. After trying to invent scenarios to make sense of the experimental results (which have been attempted many times) conservative and prudent minds have chosen merely to stick with the "description" of reality which quantum mechanics provides. 

 

So far this description (albeit probabilistic) is completely correct in its match with reality as we observe it.  I think the best example to go into is the Stern-Gerlach experiment.  It is simple and elegant.

 

I will present that on another day.

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bioengine:

 

You state explicitly and I agree, that no real thing can be in a state which is "indeterminate and could be anything or nothing".

 

No scientific theory or QM state actually embraces a physical entity which is "indeterminate" in that it could be "anything or nothing".  e.g. A = probability1*anything + probability2*nothing is not a description of a quantum mechanical state according to modern science.

 

At most an entity is described by a quantum state as an "indeterminate" mixture of some known states, the mixture (defined by probability and phase) is specific.   e.g. for spin  A = probability1*up + probability2*down (I have dispensed with phase for ease of interpretation).  Every hypothetical physical QM state A has probability1 or probability2 determined, and the sum of probabilities sums to 1 for every hypothetical QM state.  As such the state of spin for A is specific, it is defined, and the probabilities of all possible measurements is unity.  This characterization of states is not something scientists imagined, theorized or pushed for prior to observation, it is a consequence of experiments and much frustration.  Furthermore the position that the state only defines the probabilities of what will be measured also is not something scientists wanted.  This is a compromise which costs the scientist dearly.  The very nature of reality forces us to stop at merely describing the state on the basis of the probability of measuring outcomes.  Through further experiment we have not been able to crack nature to a degree such that we can know what these states "really are" in a way we can describe them coherently.  In fact it is an open question whether or not it is meaningful to impose upon the universe explanations for all possible phenomena which we can intuitively understand.  Our intuition is extremely limited by our nature, evolution, our experience etc. After trying to invent scenarios to make sense of the experimental results (which have been attempted many times) conservative and prudent minds have chosen merely to stick with the "description" of reality which quantum mechanics provides. 

 

So far this description (albeit probabilistic) is completely correct in its match with reality as we observe it.  I think the best example to go into is the Stern-Gerlach experiment.  It is simple and elegant.

 

I will present that on another day.

 

In statistical mechanics the randomness is only an abstraction and not a reality of the system.  We say it is random because it appears that way with our limited information and the statistical math can describe the system but doesn’t mean the identity of the particles is statistical.  You would have to explain more clearly why this isn’t the case for QM to convince me.

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In fact it is an open question whether or not it is meaningful to impose upon the universe explanations for all possible phenomena which we can intuitively understand.

What is the alternative?  A universe that we fundamentally cannot understand?

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What is the alternative?  A universe that we fundamentally cannot understand?

 

Let me restate.  Although we always endeavor to describe the universe in a way which can intuitively understand, it may be that some phenomena of the actual universe are not in the set of "human intuition compatible" concrete's  (although understandable with abstraction/conceptualization), and hence imposing on that universe the requirement that all phenomena "should be" such that it is "human intuition compatible" may be nonsensical... indeed "human centric"... (earth at the center of the universe again...).  We must understand reality as it is with what capacity we can, so it is in some sense "on our terms" and with our limitations we describe the universe, but the universe is the final judge of itself so to speak.

 

We evolved very specifically at a length scale, at a time scale, at an energy scale, and our "intuition" is very attuned to understand the way objects in the universe at these scales behave.  This is the perceptual "common sense".  Evolution works.  So do the formative years of infancy etc. Our minds luckily are also conceptual and logical and to the extent we can perform experiments and draw conclusions/abstractions and perform further experiments etc. no phenomenon in the universe, intuitive or not, is beyond our "understanding" or "description" or "use" to make predictions about observations and repeat experiments etc., i.e. master reality, even if it is beyond our "common sense intuition".  Thing's as ephemeral? and fleeting as Neutrinos have been actually measured.  It is a triumph of the human mind that we have described so fundamentally the workings of the universe despite our natural (common sense) mental short-sightedness.

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Let me restate.  Although we always endeavor to describe the universe in a way which can intuitively understand, it may be that some phenomena of the actual universe are not in the set of "human intuition compatible" concrete's  (although understandable with abstraction/conceptualization),

Agreed, wholeheartedly.  Hidden variables.  :thumbsup:

 

Thing's as ephemeral? and fleeting as Neutrinos have been actually measured.

Have they really?

I always figured Neutrinos were wishful thinking because, to the best of my knowledge, they were supposed to barely ever be observable, even under ideal conditions, and I have this tendency to discard any invisible-inaudible-untouchable suggestion at face-value.  But I also thought the Higgs' Boson was wishful thinking at one point and currently stand corrected.

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Here is one facility specifically for detecting solar neutrinos:

 

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sudbury_Neutrino_Observatory

 

 

Hidden variables...  I note you did not say "local".

 

I think what we need, in order to break beyond current QM (which is primarily descriptive), is  to infuse it with substance, but not just substance which is consistent with current physics, but the development of theories which predict measurable effects that are distinguishable from the descriptive model of QM.  I.e. it must be more than mere interpretation.  This may be in the form of a nonlocal hidden variable theory but it must be one whose substance is non zero.

 

What I am getting at is this:    "QM proper" is the descriptive part, the part which is incredibly powerful and correctly reflects reality, call it DQM.  The part of physics which objectivists are uncomfortable with are various interpretations of QM or call then IQM1, IQM2, etc.  I would suggest that simply replacing DQM + IQM1 with DQM + IQM2 for example changes nothing except the "image" we have in our minds.  As long as we know IQMx is only a representation for our benefit, i.e. actually says nothing about phenomena, outcomes, experimental results, nothing about concrete reality, it really is just a "pill" we take to make QM digestible.  It is in the end, a wholly irrelevant part of the science to which it is attached (like a parasite).

 

Only new physics which offer substance but with CONSEQUENCES (i.e. testable predictions) can change the face of QM.  Something fundamental would need to be discovered.  Luckily, many physicists are looking into fundamentals, much of the work is related to entanglement, bell's inequality, quantum computation, causality, measurement, uncertainty, etc.  Be optimistic.  We already have an incredibly accurate descriptive and predictive view of reality, it wont be long before we will confirm which "interpretations" are meaningful.  

 

 

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As long as we approach the ultimate understanding in a way that keeps in mind, we are descrbing that which is, and constantly checking and keeping in mind they we are looking at and describing reality and not trying to 'understand' reality based on what the 'maths' say it is or can't be. IT IS, regardless.

Edited by tadmjones

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BTW, apparently there have been experiments devised and conducted for which DeBroglie Bohm  and Standard QM have different predicted physical outcomes.  Apparently the results of the experiment were consistent with standard QM predictions and inconsistent with DeBroglie Bohm theory. 

 

http://arxiv.org/abs/quant-ph/0206196

 

I would guess this is only the first of perhaps a number of experiments to be devised and carried out, but right now its SQM 1, DBB zero.

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Hidden variables...  I note you did not say "local".

Well, thank you.  B)   It was intentional.

I think what we need, in order to break beyond current QM (which is primarily descriptive), is  to infuse it with substance, but not just substance which is consistent with current physics, but the development of theories which predict measurable effects that are distinguishable from the descriptive model of QM.  I.e. it must be more than mere interpretation.  This may be in the form of a nonlocal hidden variable theory but it must be one whose substance is non zero.

I'm not sure what a nonzero substance would refer to, but I agree with the rest of it.

I would suggest that simply replacing DQM + IQM1 with DQM + IQM2 for example changes nothing except the "image" we have in our minds.  As long as we know IQMx is only a representation for our benefit, i.e. actually says nothing about phenomena, outcomes, experimental results, nothing about concrete reality, it really is just a "pill" we take to make QM digestible.  It is in the end, a wholly irrelevant part of the science to which it is attached (like a parasite).

Isn't all knowledge, of any form and in any field, simply an image in someone's mind?

 

And it wouldn't really be a pill to make QM digestible; at least not with the connotations of triviality.

Think of it this way. . .

Let's say that you witness someone being murdered in cold blood.  Now, under those circumstances, since you are a human being, the first thought in your mind would probably be: "Why?"

You could invent all sorts of scenarios for it.  You could decide that it was the handiwork of Satan's influence, or a tumor, or some sort of neurochemical imbalance, or poverty or perhaps even (dare I say) ideas.  But would any of these describe concrete reality?

The reality is that X killed Y; now Y is dead and X is a murderer.  To ask why it happened in the first place is only speculation.

Would you feel any less of a need to understand?  And if someone told you that hypothesizing about the causes of murder is futile and divorced from reality, on the basis that no concretely observable causes have yet been identified, would you be able to stomach it?

Yes, it would sort of be a pill to make QM more digestible, but I think this is of the most vital importance.

 

And yes, different interpretations of QM may be useless additions tacked onto a field where they don't belong.  It probably depends on how you define science and the boundaries of QM.

But I think that, since all of philosophy is based on metaphysics and (for Objectivists) metaphysics is supposed to directly correspond to physics (because our philosophy is supposed to be based on concrete reality) it's absolutely crucial for people like me to be able to make sense of QM.

QM describes an aspect of reality; I base my ideas on reality.  If reality is random then, by definition, reason is futile against it and therefore, if the Copenhagen Interpretation correctly describes objective reality, that presents what is most likely the biggest contradiction I've come across, yet.  And it's most certainly not one that could be sustained, without being resolved, for any real length of time.

 

In retrospect this might have something to do with the antagonism between O'ists and QM.

 

BTW, apparently there have been experiments devised and conducted for which DeBroglie Bohm  and Standard QM have different predicted physical outcomes.  Apparently the results of the experiment were consistent with standard QM predictions and inconsistent with DeBroglie Bohm theory. 

 

http://arxiv.org/abs/quant-ph/0206196

 

I would guess this is only the first of perhaps a number of experiments to be devised and carried out, but right now its SQM 1, DBB zero.

I'll have to investigate this another day (unless you could be so kind as to summarize?).

I have waaaayyyyyyyyy too many things going on simultaneously, at the moment, to devote to this the attention it merits.

Edited by Harrison Danneskjold

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Strictly logical said:

"But when it comes to imagining reality in comparison to common experience, we tend to rely too much on what we are perceptually accustomed to. Anything other than common experience must be analysed very carefully using sound inductive and deductive reasoning...........

Let me restate. Although we always endeavor to describe the universe in a way which can intuitively understand, it may be that some phenomena of the actual universe are not in the set of "human intuition compatible" concrete's (although understandable with abstraction/conceptualization), and hence imposing on that universe the requirement that all phenomena "should be" such that it is "human intuition compatible" may be nonsensical... indeed "human centric"... (earth at the center of the universe again...). We must understand reality as it is with what capacity we can, so it is in some sense "on our terms" and with our limitations we describe the universe, but the universe is the final judge of itself so to speak."

And asked if anyone had a theory if its origin.

Yeah, its called knowledge of Oist Metaphysics and epistemology. You are talking nonsense above and do not understand what your words above actually mean in light of it. What you describe above is impossible! You will not be able to transfer meaning this way without denying the context the concepts used from "common sense" (which aint psychology!) originated.

In other words, "Strictly Logical", you dont know that logic is the formalization of MEANING.

Now:

"1. General relativity

2. nonlocality

3. anti-matter - total conversion of matter into energy

4. objective randomness (probability with no hidden variables)

5. quantum tunnelling and nuclear decay

6. dual nature (wave particle) of very small (low mass) particles, atoms etc.

7. QM in general

I reject all the above except 2 and parts of 5. Depending if you actually know what is meant by the term. My rejections are based on knowledge of the special science reasons they are incorrect and the founding and filtering of every single concept through a proper reduction.

Floating equations and statistical science along with deference to the high priest of "magical" concepts have clothed many emperors of appearances.

Edited by Plasmatic

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Strictly logical said:

"But when it comes to imagining reality in comparison to common experience, we tend to rely too much on what we are perceptually accustomed to. Anything other than common experience must be analysed very carefully using sound inductive and deductive reasoning...........

Let me restate. Although we always endeavor to describe the universe in a way which can intuitively understand, it may be that some phenomena of the actual universe are not in the set of "human intuition compatible" concrete's (although understandable with abstraction/conceptualization), and hence imposing on that universe the requirement that all phenomena "should be" such that it is "human intuition compatible" may be nonsensical... indeed "human centric"... (earth at the center of the universe again...). We must understand reality as it is with what capacity we can, so it is in some sense "on our terms" and with our limitations we describe the universe, but the universe is the final judge of itself so to speak."

And asked if anyone had a theory if its origin.

Yeah, its called knowledge of Oist Metaphysics and epistemology.  What you describe above is impossible! You will not be able to transfer meaning this way without denying the context the concepts used from "common sense" (which aint psychology!) originated.

In other words, "Strictly Logical", you dont know that logic is the formalization of MEANING.

Now:

"1. General relativity

2. nonlocality

3. anti-matter - total conversion of matter into energy

4. objective randomness (probability with no hidden variables)

5. quantum tunnelling and nuclear decay

6. dual nature (wave particle) of very small (low mass) particles, atoms etc.

7. QM in general

I reject all the above except 2 and parts of 5. Depending if you actually know what is meant by the term. My rejections are based on knowledge of the special science reasons they are incorrect and the founding and filtering of every single concept through a proper reduction.

Floating equations and statistical science along with deference to the high priest of "magical" concepts have clothed many emperors of appearances.

 

Thank you for joining the discussion Plasmatic!!

 

If you could provide more detail (referencing what I actually said) I would be able and would like to respond to:

 

1.  "You are talking nonsense above and do not understand what your words above actually mean in light of it."

2.  "What you describe above is impossible!"

3.  "you dont know that logic is the formalization of MEANING"

 

I have looked again at my comments and cannot see how these 3. conclusions can be based solely on my comments i.e. without introducing other new premises or speculation about what I have tried to say.

I will assume you are very intelligent and rational and that this is some sort of miscommunication which can be fixed by exchange of information and keeping unsupported logical "leaps" to a minimum.

 

I look forward to your considered reply.

 

SL

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SL, I quoted what you actually said and the missing premises you mention are contained in knowledge of the Oist philosophy which your post demonstrate ignorance of.

 

I explained that " You will not be able to transfer meaning this way without denying the context the concepts used from "common sense" (which aint psychology!) originated". You want a process of conceptualization/abstraction that skirts reduction.  You want abstraction disconnected from hierarchy, without a foundation on first level concepts. You want to turn the special sciences into a floating abstraction free from the criticism of the foundational science of Philosophy.

 

In forming concepts of hypothetical entities the concepts you use to define them,if valid, will ALL be integrations of sense data. Otherwise, “You are applying a concept from our present level of knowledge to a level on which you deny it suddenly.” The entire way you describe and even named your thread shows lack of understanding of Oist epistemology.

 

For now Ill post some quotes from ITOE for you to ponder:

 

 

“And you know what else is crucially important? When you talk about discovering the ultimate constituents of the universe, remember that in order to discover them, no matter by what calculations or by what machinery, you had to bring them to your perceptual level. You would have to say "this particle" is that which acts in such and such a way on subatomic particles, which act in such and such a way on atoms, which act in such and such a way on molecules, and all of that results in a material object such as this glass as distinguished from other material objects such as this ashtray. Unless you bring it back to the perceptual level, it's not knowledge. That is what has to be kept in mind always in speculating about ultimate causes, which have to be discovered by some, at present, unknown means. You still always have to bring it back to your sensory-perceptual level, otherwise it's not knowledge”

 

 

 

“Measurement is the identification of a relationship in numerical terms—and the complexity of the science of measurement indicates the complexity of the relationships which exist in the universe and which man has barely begun to investigate. They exist, even if the appropriate standards and methods of measurement are not always as easily apparent nor the degree of achievable precision as great as in the case of measuring the basic, perceptually given attributes of matter. If anything were actually "immeasurable," it would bear no relationship of any kind to the rest of the universe, it would not affect nor be affected by anything else in any manner whatever, it would enact no causes and bear no consequences—in short, it would not exist.

The motive of the anti-measurement attitude is obvious: it is the desire to preserve a sanctuary of the indeterminate for the benefit of the irrational—the desire, epistemologically, to escape from the responsibility of cognitive precision and wide-scale integration; and, metaphysically, the desire to escape from the absolutism of existence, of facts, of reality and, above all, of identity.”....................

 

 

 

 

"The process of measurement is a process of integrating an unlimited scale of knowledge to man's limited perceptual experience—a process of making the universe knowable by bringing it within the range of man's consciousness, by establishing its relationship to man. It is not an accident that man's earliest attempts at measurement (the evidence of which survives to this day) consisted of relating things to himself—as, for instance, taking the length of his foot as a standard of length, or adopting the decimal system, which is supposed to have its origin in man's ten fingers as units of counting.

It is here that Protagoras' old dictum may be given a new meaning, the opposite of the one he intended: "Man is the measure of all things." Man is the measure, epistemologically—not metaphysically. In regard to human knowledge, man has to be the measure, since he has to bring all things into the realm of the humanly knowable. But, far from leading to subjectivism, the methods which he has to employ require the most rigorous mathematical precision, the most rigorous compliance with objective rules and facts—if the end product is to be knowledge.

This is true of mathematical principles and of the principles by which man forms his concepts. Man's mathematical and conceptual abilities develop simultaneously. A child learns to count when he is learning his first words. And in order to proceed beyond the stage of counting his ten fingers, it is the conceptual level of his consciousness that man has to expand."........

 

 

 

 

 

Everything that we discuss, everything, is <ioe2_194> done from the human viewpoint and has to be, because there is no such thing as "reality in itself." That is one of the concepts of Kant's that we have to be very careful of. If we were omniscient like God, we would still have to perceive reality by our God-like means of perception, and we would have to speak of exactitude from that viewpoint. But "things in themselves"—as separated from consciousness and yet discussed in terms of a consciousness—is an invalid equivocation. .”..

 

 

 

“when we speak of measurement, we begin with a perceptually given unit, and that unit is absolute and exact [within the context of our means of perception]. Then conceptually we may refine our methods and we may measure such things as milliseconds and a part of a subatomic particle, which we can't do perceptually. But the standard of these measurements, the base from which conceptual complications may later be derived, is that which we perceive directly on the perceptual level; that is what measurement means, that is its base. Therefore, when I say that for measurement there has to be a unit of measurement, I mean that even when you take a submicroscopic, conceptual type of measurement, that type ultimately has to be reduced back to our standard of measurement, which is the perceptually given, and nothing more or less.

With scientific development you might discover that, microscopically, the edge of this piece of paper is ragged and has tiny mountain peaks and valleys. That is not relevant to your [macroscopic] process of measurement, because you had to use the perceptual method as a start in order to get to your microscopic instruments of measurement” "

 

Edited by Plasmatic

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SL, I quoted what you actually said and the missing premises you mention are contained in knowledge of the Oist philosophy which your post demonstrate ignorance of.

 

I explained that " You will not be able to transfer meaning this way without denying the context the concepts used from "common sense" (which aint psychology!) originated". You want a process of conceptualization/abstraction that skirts reduction.  You want abstraction disconnected from hierarchy, without a foundation on first level concepts. You want to turn the special sciences into a floating abstraction free from the criticism of the foundational science of Philosophy.

 

In forming concepts of hypothetical entities the concepts you use to define them,if valid, will ALL be integrations of sense data. Otherwise, “You are applying a concept from our present level of knowledge to a level on which you deny it suddenly.” The entire way you describe and even named your thread shows lack of understanding of Oist epistemology.

 

For now Ill post some quotes from ITOE for you to ponder:

 

Plasmatic:

 

You've barraged me with a whole new set of "assertions" which I would rather defer response to until we have addressed the first set of assertions, the basis on which you rely to make, I am still trying to figure out.

 

 

Perhaps this discussion will benefit from a little focus.

 

Of:

 

1.  "You are talking nonsense above and do not understand what your words above actually mean in light of it."

2.  "What you describe above is impossible!"

3.  "you dont know that logic is the formalization of MEANING"

 

I suggest we deal with 2, primarily because it is more "oriented toward reality" than the purported content of anyone's mind.

 

I ask you to address directly:

 

A ) To WHAT are you referring when you say "What you described above."

B ) What portion (or totality) of that "what is described above" is impossible

C ) Precisely WHY IS that "what is described" impossible.

 

 

Respectfully,

SL

Edited by StrictlyLogical

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I quoted what I meant by above and reiterated it to you when you asked for clarification.

Here it is again:

""But when it comes to imagining reality in comparison to common experience, we tend to rely too much on what we are perceptually accustomed to. Anything other than common experience must be analysed very carefully using sound inductive and deductive reasoning...........

Let me restate. Although we always endeavor to describe the universe in a way which can intuitively understand, it may be that some phenomena of the actual universe are not in the set of "human intuition compatible" concrete's (although understandable with abstraction/conceptualization), and hence imposing on that universe the requirement that all phenomena "should be" such that it is "human intuition compatible" may be nonsensical... indeed "human centric"... (earth at the center of the universe again...). We must understand reality as it is with what capacity we can, so it is in some sense "on our terms" and with our limitations we describe the universe, but the universe is the final judge of itself so to speak."

The above is full of errors. Edit: The impossible in it is the idea that meaning can be transferred to higher level concepts while denying their source and context in perception. That induction or deduction somehow allow us to bypass the foundation of perception to ALL HUMAN knowledge.

Now If you read the ITOE quotes I posted you will see that they address more of what you said than the above and thats why I posted them.

Edited by Plasmatic

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I've been thinking about this a lot, lately, and I think I understand the present malfunction.

 

SL, can what you are trying to convey be summarized as the assertion: "there may be entities within (and/or inclusive) aspects of the universe which are not logical"?

 

Because that's what common-sense is; the informal use of on-the-fly logic.  Many people tend to make invalid assumptions while using common sense but that stems from lapses of judgment and shoddy reasoning.

Common-sense itself, if followed ruthlessly and rigorously enough, is the precursor to formal logic.  I think this is part of what Plasmatic is criticizing, based on 1. Common sense is amateur logic 2. Your username is strictly logical and 3. you're criticizing common sense.

 

I do see where you're coming from but I think the word you're looking for is intuitive.

Things are not always exactly what they seem to be, at first glance (which I infer is the brunt of your argument, and is true) but human beings can find out the truth behind appearances. . . Through the use of common sense.

 

Now, I think what Plasmatic is trying to say (please correct me if I'm wrong) is this:

 

Human beings can only perceive the universe through human senses and human minds (i.e. logic).  We have no other way of knowing anything.

 

Now, he's saying that it's impossible for there to be anything we can't understand, and that's probably true (I won't go there; unnecessary) but consider this:

 

If there were any entity (and/or) aspect of the universe which was imperceptible or illogical, could we ever actually be aware of it?  I'm not sure how well that corresponds to your actual argument but, if you follow that line of reasoning, I think it boils down to "We know that we cannot know anything" which IS impossible.

 

 

 

It isn't a metaphysical problem; it's epistemological (not WHAT exists but HOW we know it).  Furthermore, I think if you stop and rethink the concepts you're using and your terminology, you'll find that the disagreement is actually much smaller than you think.

Edited by Harrison Danneskjold

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That which is random is out-of-bounds to human knowledge; you cannot predict or understand it. 

For instance, you could tell me that there's a 1/6 chance of a die landing on any given side or a 1/2 chance of a coin flip landing heads or tails; I assert that this doesn't count as functional knowledge.

If you had to build cars or skyscrapers that way, we would end up "knowing" that only 1/6th of people who use them will die horribly.  If you planted crops with statistical and probabilistic knowledge, you would starve one year in six.

 

For something to "truly" be random is for it to be causeless (because there's supposedly no reason for any one outcome, instead of another) which ultimately defies the law of identity.  Truly random particles would behave illogically.

 

That which has no identity is beyond the scope of human understanding; that which is out-of-bounds to reason, for all intents and purposes, doesn't exist.

It's semantically null to debate over the nature of things we cannot understand; it is as futile as debating how many angels could dance on the head of a pin.  So if there are parts of the universe which we can never understand, there is no reason whatsoever to discuss or even think about them.

 

If you can't understand it then it's a waste of time to try- if you cannot think about something then it "exists" in exactly the same way that unicorns do.

 

But, again, this isn't metaphysical but epistemological.  Note that nowhere in here did I assert whether or not the Copenhagen Interpretation is true; all I'm saying is that even IF it's true, it renders itself irrelevant to the whole of humanity and utterly meaningless.

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